Saturday, 5 December 2015

WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS ; NOTES FROM AN OCCUPIED CITY



And you oh so gay,

With your Parisian demands

You can run around.

Cockney Rebel, Sebastian

 

Cities have sexes; London is a man, Paris a woman, and New York a well-adjusted transsexual.

Angela Carter 

 

The Eurostar dropped me off, at the time it said it would, at the Gare du Nord, where I was promptly robbed by a taxi driver for a short ride to Île de France, fares no doubt being boosted by the climate change jamboree taking place in this city this week. I would not have come at this time if I had known I was sharing the City of Lights with charlatans, thieves and lawyers. However, I checked into my comfortable Airbnb apartment, took a couple of beers and a pastis, strolled around Sacré Coeur as the light fled, and dined on escargots followed by magret de canard.

I certainly saw a lot of armed troopers who weren’t here on my last visit, in May, en route to Munich. One of them gave me a long, unnerving look as I walked past. He appeared to be guarding a souvenir shop. Perhaps he just couldn’t make me out. With my new haircut, bristling moustache and linen suit replete with checked waistcoat, I resemble an off-duty Wehrmacht officer who has elected to go to a Brideshead Revisited-themed party as Nietzsche. I passed on and returned to the apartment and an early night, the street outside almost unnaturally silent.

I live in a very dark apartment in London, and so it was a pleasure to rise early in darkness (it’s one hour ahead of GMT here, and so concomitantly darker in the morning) and let the light begin to wash the main room at about 8am. It’s an attractive room, plenty of wood, deep reds on the walls, a hint of Orientalism breaking up the Art Deco, academic literature in French (Nietzsche, Foucault, Dewey, Merleau-Ponty; very me) piled around on the floor, a rocking-chair. And so the morning arrives in Paris.

After some writing and a brief catch-up on various websites from which I get my news, and then it will be time to get provisions. After that, a walk into the city, armed with my trusty map. I have no aims this week, no targets or ambitions. I will let Paris come to me. Tonight I am having dinner with a journalist I last met well over thirty years ago, and tomorrow night I am dining with an American lady I fell into conversation with on the Eurostar. It should be amusing. She thinks that America’s interest in Donald Trump is symptomatic of the trouble the USA is in. So do I, but for entirely different reasons.

The West in general is in trouble, not just America. We are deep inside an experiment to rival anything the elites have ever tried before. Power is finally being taken from the people, although the word ‘democracy’ is still bandied about like some ceremonial costume still worn but which now means nothing. Money is being transferred in two ways: from the productive class to the non-productive, and from the successful northern hemisphere to the failed southern. An unassimilable and wholly alien culture is being imported, with dire consequences already and worse to follow. Economically, the West has maxed out all its credit cards, and is silently awaiting the coming fiscal collapse. I am reading Robert Spencer’s Complete Infidel’s Guide to Isis, a wonderful book called It Cannot Be Stormed, written in the 1920s by Ernst von Salomon and set in the farming communities of Germany whose demise fed straight into Weimar. Breakfast, I rather think.

I walked south, eventually. I have a total inability to use maps or remember directions. I think it may be to do with never having driven a car; drivers have a good sense of direction, I note. I went down to Place Stalingrad for an omelette, then meandered back to Montmartre up Rue Magenta. I have found my local supermarket for milk, coffee, yoghurt, juice, pastis, absinthe and other essentials. This is a heavily ethnicised area, and not of my ethnicity. I think I’ve seen it now, and will go further afield as the week progresses.

The city doesn’t feel occupied, but then it isn’t my city. I see that London Bridge has been evacuated in my absence. That is my city, and not far from my current little hidey-hole. I can’t see me staying in a city, though. Cities are beginning to wear me out; they are for the young. I need the sea, and peace and quiet, and a small, amusing dog, and no helicopters constantly blatting away overhead.

My first evening proper was spent in a charming, bijou restaurant, dining with a journalist I haven’t seen in thirty years. It was a wonderful evening, with a few surprises. Firstly, he is a devout Christian. Secondly, he is – like your humble scribe – Right-wing. We ate hare, as promised. James paid, a lovely gesture which I will reciprocate when he is next in London. My cab driver on the way back was Muslim, and seemed impressed that I knew the French word for Muslim. Mussulman, since you asked.

Next evening I dined with a wonderful New Jersey lady, and we have agreed to become travelling partners for the week of our stay.

The next morning, an extraordinary homosexual from the downstairs apartment minced up to tell me he has a leak into his flat. I saw the problem immediately, but refused to help. I am a visitor, and it is not my place. He huffed off like a chaffinch on a hot tin roof.

I have just purchased two vinyl albums from the second-hand shop in the street next to mine. Next by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Even in the Quietest Moments by Supertramp. I really am beginning to like Paris. Will it turn to love? To dinner again tonight, with my American friend from the Eurostar, after seeing the lit Eiffel Tower.

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